World Cup 1 Ostend BelgiumOwen Daniels
The world cups are back and this year will be my second year attending this event and I was hoping more experience would come with better results. The first world cup would be held in Ostende Belgium which was primarily a flat course and suits what I do best which is flat and fast time trials. Last year at this event I had my best race ever as far as a power output and I was excited to see if I could replicate that performance for 2022. There were 2 things different for this year than last year. 1 is I am no longer in the h4 class and 2 the course is running the opposite way of last year. The course would still be a 20 kilometer race with an out and back section along the cost and some technical turns through a small portion of the city.
Racing would be held on thrusday and Saturday with the time trial on Thursday and road race on Saturday. When Thursday came I was feeling good and ready to put down a good performance. The goal was top 10 in what is deepest and most competitive class in all of paracycling. There were 42 racers in the h3 category so top 10 would be a solid showing for me. It was race day now and all focus was on my performance. As I waited in the rider shoot to take my place on the start ramp I could hear the race announcer saying finish times over the intercom. All I remember hearing was “3rd place time of 31:06” and that stuck in my head. I thought if I could match my time of 31:30 from 2021 that should be good enough for top 10. My pace started off great and power was good. My first lap pace was right on point for finishing where I wanted to. Second lap started and it was time to empty the tank and leave it all on the course. Coming down the final stretch I thought I was going to just miss the mark I set for myself. “Push, push, push”, is what I kept repeating in my head. 24, 25, 26 miles per hour was reading across my computer and I was covering ground quickly. Then I seen the finish line in the distance and that was the first time in the race I felt that I could beat my time from 2021. The last few hundred meters were passing and the finish line was coming up fast now. I gave it my all in the final sprint and crossed the line with a finishing time of 30:47. As I crossed the line I yelled as loud as I could ecstatic with the effort I just put forth. I continued through the finish line and kept rolling to the Team USA tent and as I rolled up to the tent I was greeted with smile and hugs. This is when I learned my effort was good enough for third place and my first podium finish ever at a world cup event.
The next event in Ostende would be the men’s h3 road race. The field was deep and these races tend to be very aggressive with lots of pushing and shoving. I was lucky enough to get great positioning for the start of this race. What was supposed to be a controlled start turned out to be anything but controlled. As soon as the whistle blew it was full gas and the bumping and shoving started immediately. About 30 sec into the race all of the sudden I hear bikes scraping together which was followed by a huge crash that left many riders flipped over and even one racer flipped onto a set of train tracks just missing the passing train. Thank goodness no one was severely hurt. Racing continued and so did the carnage. This was my first world cup race in the men’s h3 category and I had heard stories about these races. I was always told they are very aggressive and you have to stand your ground but be safe so that’s just what I did. After almost 70 kilometers of racing I was able to find myself in the lead pack in position for a top 10 finish. On the final lap entering the most technical part of the course I as out of position and pushed me to the back of the pack. Not able to recover I ended up dropping slightly off the pace of the lead group and finished just a few seconds behind them in 11th place. Still one of my best road races in a world cup and I was very pleased with my effort